ComptTIA Linux+ Certification: My Experience.
This past week, I took both the CompTIA LX0-103 and LX0-104 exams in order to become Linux+ certified. I scored a 780/800 on the first test, and an 800/800 on the second test. For those who don’t know, the completion of both of these exams can be applied towards for LPIC-1 certification, as they are currently the same exam. In this post, I’d like to give my opinion on the certification as whole along with my opinion on the exams.
Note: This article pertains to the LX0-103 and LX0-104 exams. CompTIA regularly updates these exams and changes their criteria. For example, CompTIA released a beta exam for the Linux+ certs in October of 2018, meaning they will probably be switching up the criteria in early 2019.
Studying and Preparation
When I first began studying for this test, I had been using a CBT-nugget type of video course. Looking back now, I realize that these video courses probably didn’t help me on the exams as much as you might think even though I did get some great theoretical information from them. The reasoning behind it is that the videos covered a large portion of topics, sometimes incredibly in depth. I eventually moved on to practice exams located all over the internet. I would make a note of what questions I missed and then would look up why the answer was the way that it was. It also was incredibly helpful to me to have a Linux machine running so that I could verify the knowledge I was picking up. Note: I’ve been a Linux user for years and spent the last 3 years as a Linux administrator for Higher Education. I mention this because my previous experience certainly had an influence on my view of the tests.
The Linux+ certification is achieved by completing two sets of exams, the LX0-103 and the LX0-104. I took these exams on back-to-back days. You must pass the LX0-103 before attempting the LX0-104, so you may not want to schedule them on the same day, just in case. The exams are graded on a scale of 200-800, and you must achieve a score of 500 to pass. Both of the exams were incredibly similar. They were both 60 questions, most of which were multiple choice, ABCDE. There were also a number of single-word response questions, maybe about 5 or 6. The test is conducted via a PearsonVUE facility (in my case, as the University that I used to attend), and is taking on a standard desktop computer. You have roughly two hours to answer all 60 question. In my experience, it was the single-word response questions that were the most difficult, especially on the second exam. Sometimes you are asked for a complete path to a configuration file, or what command line option will result in the desired action. Without the crutch of multiple choice, I can see how some may find this difficult.
After The Exam
I was relieved whenever I had passed my second exam, even if I didn’t find the criteria to be terribly difficult. You are given the results of the exam immediately after filling out a small 15-question survey. Interestingly enough, I was only given a paper-copy of my “you passed the test” sheet after my second exam, not for my first. I suspect perhaps the testing center had forgot to give me a copy, but who knows. A day after taking the exam, the result status were on certmetrics. The day after the second exam, the Certification showed up under the account. There are several ways you can verify the results of the exam. The first of which is a paper-certificate with your name and ID on it. CompTIA/Certmetrics advertises that it may take up to 8 weeks to print and delivery a physical paper certificate. I decided to not bother, as it’s not exactly a prestigious certificate. If you need to verify your certificate for any reason, you can download a PDF version of the certificate from certmetrics. You may also create a transcript via the same website, which will generate a file containing all of your CompTIA exams.
So who is this certificate for?
For someone’s first certificate after the A+, or for those helpdeskers that are looking to get out of helpdesk, this certificate is probably for you. Do not let it fool you, however: The exam criteria will not explicitly prepare you to be a Linux Administrator. If you’re going to spend the time studying for the certificates, do yourself a favor and find study material that goes above and beyond the exam criteria, as it will probably be more beneficial to you in the long run. If your job requires at least some kind of operating system certificate and you’ve already got Linux experience, then this certificate may be for you. However, you may be better off looking into Microsoft’s MCP if you do not intend on touching Linux.
In my opinion, the testing experience it’s self was fine. A good number of questions of varying difficulty, and I believe the short-answer questions to be the most effective. My issue with the certification in general come down to: “Does having this certificate prove that the test-taker is a verified entry-level Linux Administrator?” The answer to this is no. A number of questions are too specific, and many questions were dealing commands that I have never needed to use in 3 years of Linux Administrator of over 100 Linux servers in a Higher Education environment.
Down to brass tacks: I probably would have not bothered with obtaining this certificate if my employer hadn’t both required it, and paid for it, which was $200 for each test, $400 in total. A bit pricey, however the certificate is perpetual and does not need to be renewed. As a final note, I’d like to say that I’m not downplaying anyone’s choice of certifications. Any time that you spend studying and learning material is time well spent, if you receive a certification in the end to prove that you put the work in, even better.